Six Sigma to Bombay Tiffenwallas Back   Home  
Six Sigma is invented by again INDIANS - Bombay Tiffenwallas.

They make one Error on every 16 million transactions.

The world renowned Forbes magazine has selected them as a collossal example of six sigma's success..

Logistics at its best. I was baffled on seeing the numbers. Pls. read...

The Mumbai Tiffinwallas are international figures now thanks to Forbes Global.

The Forbes story details the efficiency which with they deliver the Tiffins of their customers. Around 5000 Tiffinwallas deliver 175,000 lunches everyday and take the empty tiffin back. They make One Mistake in 2 months. This means there is one Error on every 16 million transactions. This is thus a 6 Sigma performance (a term used in quality assurance if the percentage of correctness is 99.999999) - the performance which has made companies like Motorola world famous for their Quality.

Following is the complete story:
Mumbai's "tiffinwallahs" have achieved a level of service to which Western businesses can only aspire. "Efficient organization" is not the first thought that comes to mind in India, but when the profit motive is given free rein, anything is possible. To appreciate Indian efficiency at its best, watch the tiffinwallahs at work.

These are the men who deliver 175,000 lunches (or "tiffin") each day to offices and schools throughout Mumbai, the business capital of India. Lunch is in a tin container consisting of a number of bowls, each containing a separate dish, held together in a frame. The meals are prepared in the homes of the people who commute into Mumbai each morning and delivered in their own tiffin carriers. After lunch, the process is reversed. And what a process - in it's complexity, the 5,000 tiffinwallahs make a mistake only about once every two months, according to Ragunath Medge, 42, president of the Mumbai Tiffinmen's Association. That's one error in every 8 million deliveries, or 16 million if you include the return trip. "If we made 10 mistakes a month, no one would use our service," says the craggily handsome Medge.

How do they do it? The meals are picked up from commuters' homes in suburbs around central Mumbai long after the commuters have left for work, delivered to them on time, then picked up and delivered home before the commuters return. Each tiffin carrier has, painted on its top, a number of symbols which identify where the carrier was picked up, the originating and destination stations and the address to which it is to be delivered. After the tiffin carriers are picked up, they are taken to the nearest railway station, where they are sorted according to the destination station. Between 10:15 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. they are loaded in crates onto the baggage cars of trains. At the destination station they are unloaded by other tiffinwallas and re-sorted, this time according to street address and floor. The 100 kilogram crates of carriers, carried on tiffinwallahs' heads, hand-wagons and cycles are delivered at 12:30 p.m., picked up at 1:30 p.m., and returned where they came from.

The charge for this extraordinary service is just 150 rupees ($3.33) per month, enough for the tiffinwallahs, who are mostly self-employed, to make a good living. After paying Rs. 60 per crate and Rs.120 per man per month to the Western Railway for transport, the average tiffinwallah clears about Rs.3,250. Of that sum, Rs. 10 goes to the Tiffinmen's Association. After minimal expenses, the rest of the Rs. 50,000 a month that the Association collects go to a charitable trust that feeds the poor.

Superb service and charity too. Can anyone ask for more? Comments: What is wonderful about this system is that it extends the design and uses the tiffinwala, the end user and their cognitive and memory structure as well. Since one tiffinwala is not going to pick more than 10-20 Tiffin, he can easily sort recognize at the originating station and deliver it to the owner. Also within a building, the tiffin wala knows which floor to deliver. Within a floor a owner can recognize his Tiffin amongst others. Thus these Tiffins carry only * A symbol (not name) of the originating station * A symbol for the destination station * A symbol for the building where the addressee is. And what is more amazing is that this is run by people, most of whom are illiterate.

Salaam to the Spirit of Mumbai !!
This article was published in Really great!!